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5 Simple Ways to Give Your Small Business a Professional Facelift

One of the biggest challenges that small business owners face is trying to relay a professional image to their customers and prospects. With larger organizations and corporations cornering the market in just about every industry, competing can be tough. The only way to truly do so is to present to the public that you are able to deliver the same service and quality as that of your larger counterparts. So, how can you accomplish this if you’re just a small mom and pop operation? Easy. Here are 5 simple ways you can make your small business shine like the big guys.

Get a Dynamic Website

These days if you don’t have a website for your business, you’re most certainly missing out. But it’s not enough to simply throw a webpage up. Research has shown that it takes just 3 seconds for a web visitor to decide whether to stay on a page or leave. That means in order for your website to truly be effective, it has to immediately captivate and draw people in. It should be dynamic, easy to navigate, interactive and comprehensive. It should also include a blog that is updated frequently with quality content. Oh, and unless you have a background in web development and design, don’t try to do it yourself – hire a professional.


If you want customers, prospects, vendors, partners and potential investors to view your business as professional, you have to communicate professionally, all the time. Make sure emails include your business signature, including your website URL, watch your spelling and grammar, and avoid the use of abbreviations, industry lingo or anything else that could come across as unprofessional. A business phone system that includes a toll free number, robust phone trees and other advanced features is also an excellent way to show everyone that you’re a real, solid business that can compete with anyone.

Demonstrate that You Are Real

If you want customers and prospects to view your business as more than just a fly-by-night operation, show them that you are real. A great way to do this is by including other members of your team on emails. You can even mention that you’re cc’ing so-and-so to point it out to the recipient. What this does is demonstrate that your business is made up of a team of qualified professionals, and it’s not just a one man show.

Leverage Technology

There are plenty of quality technology products on the market that can help you beef up your business and give it a more professional feel. And more importantly, most of them won’t break the bank. Use a professional web hosting service, utilize an email or newsletter program, or employ an electronic signature software. The more state-of-the-art technology you use, the more of a streamlined, professional image your business will present.

Provide Exceptional Follow-Up

What many small businesses do to their own detriment is drop the ball once they’ve landed a customer. If you make it a point to deliver superior service after the sale, you’ll impress your customers and increase the chances of gaining referrals. This can be more challenging to a small business vs. a larger organization, just because of lack of manpower, but it’s a critical component of success so do whatever it takes to get it done.
Nowadays, it’s much easier for a small business to compete with larger enterprises, particularly in terms of technological advancements. Take advantage of these tools and focus on providing the highest possible level of service, and you’ll be well on your way to presenting the professional image you want and giving the bigger guys a run for their money.

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posted by Rebecca Daneault @ 8:56 AM

Getting the Most Out of Your Vacation

In a recent post we talked about the importance of getting away every once in a while and taking a much needed vacation. Perhaps you’ve taken our advice and booked a getaway in the next few weeks to enjoy some fun in the sun. One important thing to remember before you head out of the office is that you can use the rest and relaxation to recharge your batteries and come back to work with a vengeance. Here are a few tips to help you get back in the swing of things following a vacation and maximize all the energy you'll have gained during your time off.

Prepare Ahead of Time – Before you leave, make sure that all of the most critical items on your to-do list have been tackled or are at least under control. This will make returning from your trip much less chaotic and stressful. For the tasks that didn’t get handled before you trip, plan ahead on how you will handle them upon your return. It may mean scheduling a day to run errands or tacking on an extra hour of work to each day, but having a well thought out plan in place ahead of time will make it much more manageable. 

Put Your Ideas into Action – Admit it – while you were lying on that beach, sipping a piña colada your mind was busy thinking about ways you can grow your business or increase sales. Rest and relaxation can be a great way to generate new and innovative ideas. So take advantage of your newfound genius and jot down or create a voice memo of your thoughts as they come to you. Then, when you return to the office, create some action plans to implement your newfound ideas.

Ease into Things – You’ll probably be tempted to hit the ground running, but give yourself a break and try to ease back into the swing of things gradually. Otherwise, you’ll likely find yourself stressed to the max on day one, which will completely negate the benefits of your vacation. Set aside specific time to check and respond to email, go through important paperwork and schedule appointments, but don’t try to do everything as soon as you walk back into your office. Don't worry - little by little, you’ll get back on track.

Share the Wealth – Chances are during your time off you were able to relax and recharge. When you get back, be sure to pass on some of that newfound energy to your hard working employees. Remember that just as you need to get away from the office from time to time, so do your employees. Take a moment to reevaluate their current vacation days and encourage them to use their time off. The benefit to you is that they’ll return just as recharged as you were when you got back from your getaway and be ready to work with gusto.

Running a small business may be a 24/7/365 job, but taking time off is important – no, critical – to your sanity and the success of your company. By employing these simple techniques you can get the rest and relaxation you need to recharge your batteries and rejuvenate your creativity, and make your return to work as smooth and efficient as possible.


posted by Rebecca Daneault @ 4:16 PM

Tips for Winning Back a Former Customer

In a perfect world, we’d all have happy, satisfied customers that remain forever loyal to our businesses. In reality, this is unfortunately not possible. There will always be a situation where a regular customer will stray – for a variety of reasons. Perhaps they had a bad experience, or found a lower price. Whatever the reason, you don’t automatically have to roll over and chalk it up to a loss. Sometimes, if you put in the effort, you can successfully win back those wayward customers. Here are a few tips for doing so.

The first step in winning back a customer that has gone astray is to take a step back and examine exactly what caused the issue. For larger organizations, you can conduct surveys and hope that former customers will be willing to take a few moments and share why they felt the need to move on. For smaller businesses, it may take a bit more legwork and some couth. First, determine which customers are worth going after. Then, send out a personalized letter or email that says something along the lines of, “You’re a valued customer. We miss you and want you back! What did we do wrong, and what can we do to fix it?”  Often just letting someone know you’ve noticed their absence and value their business can convince them to come back.

If, during the course of your research, you discover that a valued customer has left due to something that you are at fault for, take responsibility. Be clear about what the mistake was and open about what you are doing to correct it. Whenever possible, offer a specific and personalized apology, and share your action plan including the steps you plan to take to ensure that whatever caused the problem won’t happen again. 

Whether you determine that the issue was due to something you’d done or through no fault of your own, one effective way to win back a former customer is to offer a special discount or deal to entice them to come back. It’s especially helpful if you include this in a personal letter or email. Obviously it’s not practical to try this approach with every wayward customer, but for those that are particularly valuable to your business, it’s worth it.

Finally, keep in mind that even though some of the lost customers you reach out to will not respond to your apology, offer or request for feedback, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to write them off and give up. Never underestimate the importance of keeping in touch. Put those former customers on a special mailing list and consistently reach out to them, occasionally offering special deals or promotions, and generally just reminding them that their business matters to you and keeping your brand at the top of their minds. 

Losing a customer can be tough, especially for small businesses. By taking the time to learn exactly what the reasons are behind a customer’s decision to move on, and employing some of these simple tips, you’ll have a better chance of limiting your losses and hopefully turning the tide. You may not win them all back, but you very well could win one or two, which is worth the effort.

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posted by Rebecca Daneault @ 8:41 PM

5 Things You Can (and Should) Outsource

With ongoing improvements in technology, more and more businesses are beginning to take advantage of outsourcing as a means to get things done without having to hire in-house employees. There are plenty of benefits to doing so, the main one being cost savings. It’s also a great way to free up yourself or your team to be able to focus on more important tasks, like increasing sales or landing new clients. If you’ve been thinking about outsourcing some of the functions in your office, but aren’t sure which ones would make the most sense, here are 5 tasks that you can, and should, consider outsourcing.

Data Entry – When you think of the term “busy work”, data entry seems to inevitably pop up at the top of the list. It’s a task that can be monotonous and time consuming, but typically doesn’t take a lot of expertise or special knowledge. That’s what makes it such an easy thing to outsource – that, and the fact that it can usually be done remotely. There are plenty of contractors available on the various outsourcing websites, like oDesk, that offer this service for very affordable rates. Just be sure that the person you hire has a good track record for producing fast, error-free work.

Social Media – One of the biggest reasons small business owners give for not participating in social media marketing is lack of time. But nowadays, having a presence on platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn is not just an option, it’s a necessity. So what do you do if you simply can’t fit these activities into your schedule? Hire a freelancer who can do it for you. Just be careful in your selection process, as the person you hire to handle your SMM will effectively be representing your brand. If you’re still not completely comfortable turning over the reins, there are a number of project management tools (such as those offered by Hootsuite) that allow you to monitor, edit and approve all posts prior to publishing.

Blogging – There are plenty of reasons businesses big and small choose to outsource their blogging activities. Some don’t have a flare for writing, while others simply don’t have the time to devote to truly keeping their business blog active. Whatever the reason, there are qualified freelance writers who can tackle this task for you and produce quality, keyword rich content that will get your blog noticed and keep web traffic coming in.

Email Management – Sometimes something as simple as an email inbox can bog us down and kill our productivity. If you’re finding it hard to stay on top of your incoming email messages, consider hiring a virtual assistant to filter them for you. They can take care of getting rid of junk mail, flag important messages for your review, and file away others in an organized manner. Be sure that if you do choose to go this route, that you are comfortable sharing your email with another person. If not, consider keeping a separate email address for personal emails that your VA won’t have access to.

Promotion and Outreach – Launching a contest or giveaway? Want to send out an email blast to attract new customers? These are tasks that can easily be managed by a contractor. Draft up a template and then ask your freelance provider to research relevant leads, come up with a list and then tweak and personalize your letter for each recipient. You’ll be able to get much more targeted with your outreach without having to spend hours of your own time doing so. Again, many freelancers specialize in this type of marketing, so give it a go!

Outsourcing can be extremely beneficial, particularly to small businesses who are working with limited staff and resources. Synclio can help in this regard as well! With our Live Receptionist feature, all of your incoming calls will be answered for you, by courteous and professional agents. Why not try outsourcing these or other manual tasks and see how liberating it can be to let someone else handle the day to day tasks for you, so you and your team can focus on more important things – like growing your business.

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posted by Rebecca Daneault @ 7:52 AM